Sunday, February 28, 2010

Have your cookies...(But don't eat them)

It's that time of year again.
This year, both my girls came home sporting bright yellow envelopes, colorful order forms, and ear to ear grins.  Girl Scout cookies!

Of course, I put on a brave smile and listen to them chatter about what they will do with the money they earn.  The youngest is much, much more interested in what she, personally, can earn (a PSP!  All she has to do is sell one thousand boxes.  That doesn't sound too hard, right?)  But there's a little something in my oldest's eyes.

We won't be buying very many boxes.  They all have gluten, and dairy.  They all have corn.  The Dulce le Leches even have food coloring!

However, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to educate other allergy sufferers (especially those who might have fewer, easier allergens to navigate) on the finer points of cookie ordering.  For many, this is is the season that comes but once a year.  A season chock full of thin mints, hoedowns/peanut butter patties/tagalongs and Samoas/caramel deLites, adorable imps in brown and green vests and girl power galore.

Some place an order because they can't survive without the mints.  Others order simply because they want to support scouting.  And each troop gets a portion of the proceeds, while each girl is given incentives to strive for.  It's a win/win situation.  Unless you have food allergies.

If you do deal with food allergies, the dancing pigtails you see through the kitchen window when your doorbell rings may cause your heart to sink.  However, what few people realize is that each order form actually carries a list of ingredients for each of the cookie varieties.  You can look up the lists yourself at either Little Brownie Bakers or ABC Bakery (depending on which official Girl Scout bakery your local GS council chooses to order from.)  ABC Bakery is especially allergy friendly, with extra precautions in place.

If you simply can't (or don't want to) eat the cookies, you can ask your local girl scout about the Cookie Share program.  Some parents don't want to overplay the "give us money" number, but I think the program's kind of cool.  Basically, you sign up to buy a box or two or ten of girl scout cookies, and designate where you want the cookies to go.  Our local council offers to either send cases to the Military over seas, or to the local food bank.  The council chooses appropriate cookies (thin mints do not fair well in Afghanistan, but trefoils and do-si-dos will still melt in a serviceman's mouth) to be sent to the location and distributed appropriately.  I like to send to the military, since I hear they get pretty lonely and especially miss girl scout cookies...which are only available for a limited time.  The familiar cookies have been sent to brighten the days of disaster victims, as well.  And bring about smiles at the food pantry just when Christmas generosity has worn off and the "treats" section is looking thin. 

If you choose to donate, the cookies go to a good cause, the girl gets credit toward her incentive and the troop still earns their cut.  You get a receipt for your taxes.  Everyone is happy.

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